Joe wasn’t satisfied with a recent purchase. He tried troubleshooting using the FAQs on the site but couldn’t find a resolution. Finally, he called up customer support to be greeted by a friendly customer service representative.
“Hi Joe, what can we help you with today?”
“Uh, I have written several emails detailing an issue with my recent purchase. Could you please look through?”
“Sure, Joe, I will just hand over the call to a senior member of the team who’s aware of the situation. Can I put your call on hold?”
About a minute later…
“Hi Joe, this is Cathy. What can I help you with today…”
Exasperated, Joe cuts the call and proceeds to cancel his purchase online. He feels exceptionally frustrated that the service reps had no idea about the product he had purchased or the issue he was facing, despite several emails. He decides never to transact with the company again.
Does this situation seem familiar to you?
In the past few years, many firms shifted to multichannel support or offering customer support across more than two channels. With this approach, customers could interact with a brand in multiple ways, making their interactions much more convenient and hands-on. But soon, the customers grew frustrated. Just like Joe, customers often found themselves repeating their issues multiple times. Besides, with different people handling various support channels, there was low accountability, which added to customer frustration.
And that’s when brands started shifting to omnichannel customer support by attempting to create a seamless customer experience across channels. In Joe’s case, it could have meant a completely different brand experience. His online complaints would have been automatically pulled up by the help desk on receiving his call, enabling them to react more certainly, perhaps even preventing Joe from canceling his purchase and forming a low opinion of the brand.
Why Must You Upgrade To Omnichannel Customer Support?
According to Deloitte’s report, more than 60% of customers interact with brands through multiple channels and expect consistency irrespective of the time, place, device, or medium.
Research by Aberdeen Group adds that companies employing strong omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. In comparison, the retention rate is only 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.
A quick Google search will throw up many more statistics pointing to the benefits of upgrading to an omnichannel customer service strategy. But what do your customers really expect from omnichannel technology?
At the outset, customers want their interactions to be handled swiftly, efficiently, and transparently irrespective of the channel they choose. Furthermore, Gartner recognized four other areas that matter to customers. These include channel consistency, service continuity, customer recognition, and acknowledging relationship history.
Now that you know what customers expect from your support channels, here are some effective ways of meeting, and even surpassing, their expectations:
1. Focus On Providing Real-Time Support Across Devices
In line with our busy lifestyles, real-time customer support has become immensely popular, providing users with what they need without any significant wait time. One of the simplest ways of enabling real-time support on your site is integrating live chat software on your web, mobile and social touchpoints.
So, if there’s only one thing you want to do to improve your customer service experience, invest in advanced live chat software. It supports messaging, video calling, screen sharing, co-browsing and can even be integrated with your CRM for extreme personalization.
2. Focus On Mobile Customer Service
Approximately four out of five customers use mobile devices for shopping and often find customer service via mobile to be unsatisfactory. Here’s what you can do to make your customer service mobile-friendly:
- Display the customer service button prominently on your mobile site or app landing page.
- Design a contact service pathway that enables users to dial or live chat for support through mobile devices without leaving your mobile site or app.
- Make sure that your self-service material like FAQs and tutorials are optimized for mobile screens.
- Ensure your mobile app and site have fast load times and accurate displays.
If you are looking for a real-life example that aced mobile customer service, look no further than Disney’s website optimized for every device possible to maximize the Disney experience. Users can plan their complete trip on the Disney app, book tickets and hotel rooms, get real-time updates for wait-times for rides, and have their pictures taken around the park – all through a single app.
Another example is Chipotle’s mobile site and app that lets customers order and customize their burritos from anywhere. User can even save their favorite orders to save time ordering in the future. The app also suggests the last location from where the food was ordered to save users precious time searching for an address.
3. Upgrade Your Social Media Game
In a world of instant gratification, your customers have zero tolerance for delays. So, offering support on social media as part of your omnichannel strategy isn’t enough. It would be best if you were also fast and pro-active, as almost half of your customers expect you to respond to their queries on social media in less than 60 minutes.
One of the ways of achieving this is by setting up a dedicated handle for social media support. This helps in two ways:
- It helps in filtering out support and service issues from the primary channel.
- It helps in assigning the right teams to monitor the incoming messages.
One company that has aced social media support is Xbox. It also holds a Guinness World Record for “Most Responsive Brand on Twitter.” But how does @XboxSupport reply to users with an average time of 2 minutes and 42 seconds?
The answer is simple – they have a dedicated handle and team of service agents for handling Twitter support. They also respond to all the Tweets on the support handle publicly to maintain transparency and accountability.
Besides responding to social queries in real-time, brands like Starbucks have turned around customer service on its head by using social media to proactively answer user concerns.
Here’s what Starbucks does differently to delight customers daily:
- It is big on social media monitoring or social listening to keep track of customer sentiment. If you wish to emulate, try a tool like Hootsuite to keep track of your customers’ talking about you on social.
- It is proactive. Customer experience isn’t always resolving a complaint. It is about listening to your customers and delighting them through personalized, thoughtful responses and gestures.
- It is friendly. Brands like Starbucks follow a warm tone in all their customer conversations. Engaging in arguments and antagonistic banter on your social media handles with customers will only pull your brand down.
4. Build A Knowledge-Base For Helping Customers To Serve Themselves
Many customers prefer to troubleshoot on their own before connecting with customer service for a resolution. In fact, 70% of customers expect your website to include a self-service section. But how can you ensure the efficacy of your self-help material? For starters, you can create a comprehensive knowledge base that follows sound design principles. Some tips are shared below:
- Easy navigation that makes it simple to search for content
- Short, to-the-point content
- Interactive and visual design
- Consistent tone and language
Dropbox is an excellent example of using interactive and visual design for self-service. The main page uses friendly illustrations to direct your attention to the help section. There are also featured articles that point users to the most common use cases and issues to help them draw the maximum benefit out of Dropbox.
Another interesting example is Canva that offers web and mobile graphic design tools. In line with its offering, Canva has some exceptionally designed support pages with an intuitive navigation column that offers visitors clear choices to get to their goal faster.
5. Ramp Up Your Email Support For Better Engagement
Emails remain as popular as ever for reaching out to customers and solving their concerns. One company that has made optimal use of email support is Wistia. Some time back, the brand took a bold decision to remove their phone number from the site and focus only on email support.
The reason was Wistia’s relatively small team that couldn’t keep up with the string of queries. Instead of pushing their luck, the group decided to focus on personalized emails to deliver consistent and delightful service.
Email marketing has other advantages as well. It has proven to be effective in customer retention and can be used for sending branded messages. However, email support is only useful when it’s fast. So make it a point to respond to your users in a timely fashion, and don’t hesitate to fix a call if you think the matter can be resolved better with in-person interaction.
Customer support has evolved with technology evolution, but it continues to depend on the human element for success. Therefore, your customer service is only as good as the agents you hire and train – stressing the importance of building a customer-centric culture.
Zappos, the leader in customer service, has the ethos of customer-centredness etched in its values. Here’s what their LinkedIn profile says:
We’ve aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible. Internally, we call this our WOW philosophy. We believe that it’s our unique “fun and a little weird” culture that drives the WOW.
Clearly, developing a customer-centric culture is the first step in offering excellent support. Next, you must hire individuals that match your company’s cultures and values. Finally, besides equipping your customer service reps with the latest technology, you must train them continuously in both soft and hard skills to maintain a consistent level of service across channels.